NI Week 2004: SignalExpress software connects design and test

Austin, TX—National Instruments (NI) launched its SignalExpress interactive software environment for acquiring, comparing, automating, testing, and storing measurement signals at the opening of its NI Week 2004 event.

By Control Engineering Staff August 17, 2004

Austin, TX— National Instruments (NI) launched its SignalExpress interactive software environment for acquiring, comparing, automating, testing, and storing measurement signals at the opening of its NI Week 2004 event. Engineers can use SignalExpress to perform virtual instrumentation on the benchtop, and save valuable time by automating measurements for design, debugging, characterization, and validation labs.

‘For three decades, vendors have struggled to create easy-to-use measurement software that matches the interactivity of traditional instruments,’ says Dr. James Truchard, NI’s cofounder, president and CEO. ‘With SignalExpress, we bring true productivity to the benchtop by empowering designers to quickly measure and compare signals with imported design data. More importantly, SignalExpress is based on an extension of NI LabView Express technology, creating a new, interactive virtual instrumentation experience for benchtop measurements.’

In the past, electronic design and test engineers spent hours acquiring and analyzing electronic measurements manually with traditional benchtop instruments. The increasing complexity of today’s electronic devices requires more tests to verify and validate a design without additional time for engineers in the product development cycle. NI says it delivers a simple and interactive solution through SignalExpress. With this new software environment, engineers can easily combine design simulation data with measurements through an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop environment that does not require programming.

‘Simulation tools such as National Semiconductor’s Webench online design environment give engineers a preliminary look at how a circuit works. With SignalExpress, an engineer can quickly do a reality check on designs using real-time measurement data,’ adds Bob Pease, staff scientist at National Semiconductor. ‘I wouldn’t build a production board based on Spice alone, but I will trust real-world bench measurements taken with NI hardware.’

The new software integrates with PC-based NI data acquisition hardware and modular instruments to quickly and interactively perform tasks common in the design phase of the product development cycle, such as device characterization, automated sweep measurements, limit testing and measurement logging. SignalExpress integrates with electronic design automation (EDA) tools to instantly acquire and compare real and simulated measurements in the time and frequency domains. In one click, engineers also can save their SignalExpress measurements into Excel, ASCII and NI LabView measurement files.

SignalExpress continues to build on Express technology by integrating with LabView’s graphical programming environment. To reuse in highly automated test applications, engineers can instantly convert their SignalExpress projects to LabView block diagrams for applications, such as automated system validation and manufacturing test. Also, engineers can use LabView to add functionality to SignalExpress by creating user-defined steps to perform tasks, such as controlling GPIB instruments, or calling a specialized analysis function.

SignalExpress is available for Windows 2000/NT/XP. Engineers can combine the interactive measurement software with NI’s M Series and E Series multifunction DAQ devices, NI’s signal generators, and its high-speed digitizers.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor
jmontague@reedbusiness.com